The General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church of Wales is supporting the proposed changes to the law on organ donation in Wales .
With 300 people in Wales presently on the waiting list for a donor organ, the Welsh Government is proposing an ‘opt out’ system of organ donation. It hopes this will increase the number of donors, allowing more lives to be saved and improving the quality of life for patients. The government’s public consultation on its White Paper, Proposals for Legislation on organ and tissue donation, closes on 31 January.
General Secretary, Revd W. Bryn Williams, and the PCW’s Church and Society Department both support the principles of presumed consent, arguing that correctly-administered legislation will be beneficial.
“We feel that we have moral obligations to use the members of our bodies to benefit fellow human beings,” said Revd Williams. “However, tight safeguards would have to be ensured, as much of the cause of concern regarding these changes is to do with the details of the legislation. We would require the best possible guarantee that it will not be possible to improperly administer the system. We also seek assurance that the scheme will be widely supported by an ongoing communications campaign.”
The Presbyterian Church of Wales’ Church and Society Department has submitted its views on the proposed Bill as part of the consultation.
“Our starting point is the Sovereignty of God over all that people and institutions do”, it argues, “and, in our tradition, the emphasis is upon the right and duty of individuals to interpret what this means in any particular moral choice. With that in mind, we offer the following approach to the question of organ donation and the soft opt-out option.
“The human body is sacred and while we have life and breath, we have a responsibility to care for and respect our bodies and those of others as well. This duty applies whatever the condition, quality of life or status of the person concerned and these duties of care and protection apply to the social and community institutions of family and government. There can be no basis for diminishing that duty because a person is old, sick or otherwise.
“Death, however, comes to us all and when that happens our bodies return ‘dust to dust and ashes to ashes’. We believe the future of the spirit remains in the hands of our Creator, but the body will decay or be burned. Modern technology has in some cases, such as kidney failure, helped fulfil the duty of care and respect for human life. If the number of organs available for transplant is insufficient, then the state has, on our collective behalf as a community, to find proper ways to try to make good that deficiency.
“With the safeguards suggested above, individuals in Wales will be made aware of what is proposed in the scheme and have the opportunity to opt out. In these circumstances, there are very good reasons to support the chance presented in the scheme of improving the life opportunities of people who would otherwise suffer or die early.”
This view is in contrast to that of several other Christian leaders in Wales, who have expressed their disquiet at the proposed law.